Family Budget Planner

Family buget planner spreadsheet

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Example of a Confidential Members Record Sheet

Recommended for use by Lodge Almoners

Download Confidential Members Record Sheet

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Good Practices discussed at Almoners Workshops

At the recent Almoners Workshops in Morley, Otley and Sheffield a number of items of good practice were discussed and these have been placed on the Almoners’ Bulletin Board for information

  • Mention was made of the RMBI home at Connaught Court in York.  Whilst it was noted that it is run as a commercial business and it is very often fully occupied, it has been used as respite care and from time to time when space is available.
  • The Samaritan Fund (MSF) has been used very successfully by almoners; they are contacted directly in London.
  • It was agreed that the Provincial Almoners Handbook was a very useful document and a complete update is being organized.  A PDF copy of the Handbook is available on this web site
  • Certain areas in the province had quarterly lunches where brethren and widows were able to meet and have some conversation with past friends.
  • One almoner asked a question on problems which occurred in other parts of the country – in such a case contact is made with other parts of the country and the local Province will take up the case – this has proved very successful.
  • A number of questions were asked on the problems with recognizing a need.  The consensus of opinion felt that there was no better way than maintaining regular contact and making use of the help from the Provincial care team – Anne Harrison from WRMCL and Care Advisers from RMBI and RMTGB.    They attended the meetings and were very good in leaving contact numbers and their cards, they were able to fully point to a specific charity depending on the need and help with filling the forms.
  • Do not forget the West Riding Masonic Charities – this is very useful for emergency help.
  • All groups said that regular contact was necessary – telephone every month, 4 visits a year including Christmas and possibly take wife or partner.
  • In a climate where we are struggling to maintain membership it is vital that we contact members who are not attending find out why, and can we help?
  • Many Lodges involve Assistant Almoners to help with the day to day job of keeping in contact with Brethren and widows.  In some cases this included a younger assistant focusing on younger brethren.  A useful aim was to try to encourage all members of the lodge to be Almoners.
  • Almoners Fund
    The Provincial Guidance is that all Almoners in the Province should have their own Fund and they should have the discretion over its use.  An Almoner should not have to ask money from the Treasurer for his regular activities.

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Masonic Relief Grants Summary of Guidelines for the year beginning 1 April 2014

If an almoner is considering making an application for a grant it is sometimes useful if a very rough idea can be given as to the feasibility. The Masonic Relief Grants Committee (MRCG) meets on a monthly basis to consider applications for assistance with daily living expenses. The following notes are intended as a very rough guidance for almoners to see if an application is worthwhile. THESE FIGURES ARE GUIDELINES ONLY – THEY ARE NOT HARD AND FAST RULES

Income/ Expenditure

The Petitions Committee considers a minimum Income Standard as follows

Single person £10,500 per annum
Couple £16400 per annum
Single pensioner £8600 per annum
Couple Pensioner £12,600 per annum

These figures are considered to be minimum incomes required to afford an acceptable standard of living following deduction of housing costs i.e. rent or mortgage interest, council tax and water rates.  Heating/lighting costs up to £1500 are included in the guideline but the Committee will increase this by £800 for those of pensionable age up to a maximum of £2300. Capital Limits

Single Person £13,000
Couple £18,000

Filling in the application forms.

A newcomer to the application forms may find them very lengthy, however just remember in all cases we are distributing money and it is very important that in these economic circumstances we do our best for all of us. Please remember the following points:-

  • Only necessary items are required, mortgage/rent, mortgage interest, council tax and water rates.
  • The capital element of mortgage repayments will not be taken into account
  • Gas electric costs are accepted as is maintenance of boiler etc.
  • Do not include mobile phone costs unless they are necessary for safety.
  • When asking for assistance give a full account of the circumstances.  Our job is to let the Petitions Committee have as much background information as possible to enable them to understand the problems being faced by the applicant.
  • Is the problem financial?  What are the applicant’s living conditions like? Are decorations needed?
  • How is their health?  If children are involved are there schooling issues?

Obtain copies of all correspondence relating to State benefits

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Masonic Samaritan Fund

Small Grants Fund

The small grant fund has been overhauled to help all eligible beneficiaries who are facing a long wait to see a consultant. If the wait is longer than 8 weeks applicants just need to ring MSF – your Assistant Almoner should be able to help.    Please ring 020 7404 1550 for the MSF

Counselling Careline

MSF has now launched the MSF Counselling Careline to offer support to people in need of counselling and other talking therapies.  It is to help those experiencing emotional and psychological difficulties.

The Counselling Service is a confidential 24 hour freephone helpline operated by trained counsellors who will listen and offer professional guidance.  Initial contact should be through the MSF during office hours on 020 7404 1550.

More information can be found on the MSF website at

MSF Eligibility Calculator

If you or one of your Brethren are considering making an Application to MSF for a grant to fund private treatment, care or support, please go through the Eligibility Calculator to be found on the MSF web-site at

There are 10 questions for you to answer which will ascertain your eligibility to apply checking on:

  • Masonic connection
  • Assistance required
  • Financial circumstances

Following completion of the Calculator, your next steps will be explained

previous post: Opening a bank account for petitioners

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Opening a bank account for petitioners

When you have a new petitioner it is necessary to open a bank account in the name of the petitioner e.g. Bro. /Mrs. AB, and the Lodge.  It can sometimes be difficult to do this, and banks may not be very cooperative.

It has been found that Barclays Bank are amenable to opening Community Accounts – useful numbers provided – 0845 6052345 and 0800 515462.

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Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance (AA) is a tax free benefit for people aged 65 or over who need help with personal care because they are physically or mentally disabled.

Who can get Allowance Allowances?

You may get Attendance Allowance if:-

  • You have a physical or mental disability or both.
  • Your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself.
  • You are aged 65 or over when you claim.

If you are under 65 you may be able to get Disability living Allowance. Attendance Allowance isn’t usually affected by any savings or income you may have.

Special Rules – if you are terminally ill.

If you have a progressive disease and you are not expected to live for more than another six months there are special rules for claiming to make sure you get your benefit more quickly and easily. Under the special rules, the person doesn’t have to prove how much care they need. This means there is much less information that the person has to enter on the claim form. Claims made under the special rules are given priority treatment. A short medical report about the ill person’s condition must be sent in with the claim form. The report is called DS1500. The ill person or their representative should ask their doctor or specialist for a DS1500 report. The DS1500report will be based upon what is currently known about the Ill person’s condition.

It is not necessary to see the doctor to obtain the report. A nurse or doctor’s receptionist can be asked to arrange for the report to be issued.

How much do you get?

The amount you get depends on how much your disability affects you. There are two rates of Attendance Allowance.

Attendance Allowance Each Week       Equivalent per year
Higher rate if you need help both day and night      £77.45                £4,027.40
Lower rate if you need help during the day or night      £51.85                £2,696.20

How it’s paid

Attendance Allowance is normally paid directly into any account of your choice which accepts Direct Payment of benefits. This might be a bank, building society or other account provider.

You be able to get someone else to collect your Attendance Allowance if you wish. For help with this please contact your bank, building society or other account provider. If you would like more information about how you can be paid by other means you should contact the office dealing with your claim.

Effect on other benefits and entitlements

If you start to get Attendance Allowance, it might increase the amount of other benefits or credits you are entitled to. You may get an extra amount for severe disability with Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Pension Credit. If you are in receipt of any of these payments you should apply for a re-assessment immediately after Attendance Allowance is granted.

Attendance Allowance is normally ignored as income for working out these income related benefits and credit.

Rates and how to claim

Claim straight away – if you delay you may lose benefit.

You can get a claim pack by:

The local Age Concern or local advice service such as Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to help with the completion of the form.

What else you need to know

To get Attendance Allowance you must be in Great Britain or be treated as living here and meet other conditions about your residence and presence.

Also, changes to your circumstances can affect the amount of Attendance Allowance you get, or whether you get it

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Social Fund (for Almoners)

Funeral Payments

This fund can offer help with funeral costs if the person arranging the funeral is on low income.  It is a one-off tax free payment

Who can get help?

The person responsible for the arrangements needs to be on one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax benefit

How to Claim

Contact Job Centre Plus for a claim form by visiting or ring the Social Fund Enquiries line – 0845 6088 671

What Help is Given?

The Social Fund helps pay for a simple, respectful, low cost funeral.

Please contact your Lodge Almoner or the Area Assistant Almoners for more information.

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